Prosecutors in Missouri and around the country tend to be fairly confident when forensic scientists can link a suspect to the crime they allegedly committed using deoxyribonucleic acid analysis, but DNA can also be used by defense attorneys to exonerate individuals who have been wrongfully convicted. The cells of every living organism contain DNA, and analyzing it can link tissue samples with the organism they came from with incredible accuracy.
The racial disparity in jails and prisons in Missouri and throughout America went down significantly between 2000 and 2016. In 2000, a black person was 15 times more likely to be an inmate than a white person. However, in 2016, a black person was only five times more likely than a white person to be in a state jail or prison. This was largely attributed to the fact that there was a significant drop in the number of people sent to jail or prison for drug crimes.
Many Missouri residents are aware that if a crime occurs, any person who witnesses the crime may be asked at a later time to identify the person who committed the crime from a lineup. While the person who did commit the crime may actually be in the lineup, there are cases where the authorities have identified the wrong person, meaning there could be an innocent suspect included in the lineup.
Almost eight out of 10 of the people sent to jail in Missouri are incarcerated for parole or probation violations according to a report released on June 18 by the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Around the country, states spend $9.3 billion each year jailing individuals who have failed to follow supervised release program rules. About a third of this money is spent on jailing people for minor violations like missing a drug test or violating a curfew.
Violent crime rates in Missouri and around the country have fallen by almost 50% since 1993, according to figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, studies reveal that most Americans believe the country is becoming more dangerous, not less. This misconception is partly caused by a steady stream of mainstream media stories that stoke public fear and make sensational acts of violence seem far more common than they actually are. In addition, the abundance of information Americans have about modern life and the dizzying number of ways they can share it could also be playing a role.
Missouri residents might like to know about the new records regarding exonerations from prison set in 2018. Last year, 151 people were exonerated after serving a combined total of 1,639 years in prison, resulting in an average of 11 years for each person. The National Registry of Exonerations tracks data involving people released from prison after being falsely convicted, and the group said the amount of time spent behind bars is a new record.
Prisons and jails in Missouri and around the country have a disproportionately high number of black inmates. Civil rights groups say that this is the result of systemic racism in the criminal justice system and have referred to the mass incarceration of African-Americans as the new Jim Crow, but there are situations where the unfair treatment black defendants receive is unintentional rather than malicious.
Federal officers can't force people to unlock their iPhone with biometrics, such as finger or face access, according to a recent ruling from the U.S. District Court in Northern California. Previously, the feds were allowed to force this kind of entry while not being allowed to force an individual to reveal a password. This new decision treats all logins as equal and may be a landmark case in terms of privacy rights. The ruling applies to federal officers operating in Missouri and all states throughout the country.